Quick Maintenance Tips

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For Wright Stander Owners and Lawn care Operators

Engine Maintenance Tips

Extend It's Lifespan

Removing the oil filter
Changing Engine Oil

Maximize It's Performance

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How to Adjust Valve Clearances

The beauty of Stand Commercial Mowers is their ability to allow you to mow large lawns in a relatively short time. If you own a stand-on mower or probably have a lawn care business that involves using these powerful commercial mowers, you probably would like to get the best out of your equipment and at the same time keep it running a long time. What can you do to accomplish this?

There are some periodic maintenance procedures that are a must if you are to maximize your mower’s engine performance as well as extend its lifespan. Today we will share one of those maintenance procedures; adjusting the valve clearances of your stand-on commercial mower.

What you will need

  • Thickness gauge set.
  • A 6-inch adjustable wrench.
  • A torque wrench.
  • Absorbent cleaning cloths.
  • Rubber gloves.
  • An Allen screwdriver.
  • A flat screwdriver.

Important Things to Note Before You Start

  • Ensure that your stand-on mower and work area are clean.
  • These tips might be applicable to stand mowers that use Kawasaki FX, FS, and FR engine series.
  • Basic maintenance knowledge like knowing mower engine parts and prior safety procedures might be required.
  • It might require going through these procedures thoroughly before tampering with your equipment.
  • Valve clearances must be checked when the engine is cold ( at room temperature.)

A Step-by-Step Guide

Figure #1

Figure #1

Figure #2

  • Standing in front of your stand mower while facing it, you will see one valve cover on your right and the other on your left, in this job card, we will start with the one on the right.
  • Place an absorbent cleaning cloth directly below the valve cover (rocker cover) on your right to hold any oil that will drip during the process.
  • Remove the valve cover by untying its supporting bolts.
  • Clean any existing oil in the valves area with a clean absorbent cloth.
  • To get the right position where you can easily adjust both the inlet and exhaust valve clearances (Top Dead Centre. TDC), open the engine’s top cover and expose its flywheel.
  • Turn the flywheel in a clockwise direction as seen in Figure #1 until the right foot of the magnet on the flywheel is directly opposite the left arm of the ignition coil on your right.
  • Swipe the thickness gauge set between the rocker arms and the valve stems.
  • At this point, there should be a clearance between both rocker arms and their valve stems respectively (inlet valve and exhaust valve stems.)
  • If there is no clearance between the two rocker arms and their respective valve stems, turn the flywheel again until it is in the same position as the one mentioned above.
  • If there is a clearance in both valves, use a thickness gauge set to see how wide they are. The recommended clearance range for both inlet and exhaust valves according to Kawasaki service manual of a 4-stroke, air cooled V-twin gasoline engine of series FX, FS, and FR ranges from 0.1m to 0.15mm ( 0.004 to 0.006 inch.) when the engine is cold.
  • If it is bigger or smaller than the recommended range, adjust the space to be within the recommended range.
  • To adjust, you might need someone to hold the thickness gauge set between the rocker arm and the valve stem.
  • Hold the rocker arm bolt with an adjustable wrench and loosen its locking nut with a torque wrench.
  • Keep turning the rocker arm bolt back and forth until the gauge tool gently touches the rocker arm and the valve stem.
  • The gauge tool should touch the rocker arm and the valve stem but also be easily swiped between the rocker arm and the valve stem without any hindrance.
  • Hold the rocker arm bolt in that position and tighten the locking nut to a specified torque (the specified torque is 11 NM, or 1.1 kgf.m or 87 in.lb.)
  • To adjust the second valve, repeat the same procedures mentioned above.
  • At this point, you have finished adjusting the valves on your right.
  • Put back the valve cover and tighten its supporting bolts.
  • To adjust the valves on your left, rotate the flywheel in a clockwise direction as seen in figure #2 until the right leg of its magnet is directly opposite the left arm of the ignition coil on your left.
  • Check the clearances by inserting a thickness gauge in between its valve stems and rocker arms ( inlet valve stem and exhaust valve stem.)
  • If the clearance is wider, adjust it to its recommended range using an adjustable wrench and a torque wrench.
  • Put back the valve cover.
  • At this point, you are done and your stand mower is ready for use.

Valve clearance adjustment can basically take you not more than an hour to have it done and you can do all this by yourself without necessarily hiring a mechanic. All you will need is a thickness gauge, a 6inch adjustable wrench, a torque wrench, cleaning cloths, rubber gloves, an Allen key, and a flat screwdriver and you will be ready to perform this task.

Benefits of Periodically Adjusting Valve Clearances

  • It helps in eliminating engine power loss and thus allow your equipment to perform at its expected horsepower.
  • Eliminating the knocking or pinging noise in your engine.
  • Maximizing its output and lifespan.
  • Avoiding possible damage of the entire cylinder head and other critical parts like push rods, valve stems, and more.

As your stand mower operates, the powerful vibration it delivers can easily cause bolts like the ones holding the rocker arms to loosen. Left unchecked, valve clearances will increase. That is the reason why it should be included among the list of things you should periodically do. So don’t delay, promptly adjust them and your stand-on mower will deliver its expected output.

Those are the steps you will need to successfully adjust the valve clearances of your equipment. Try them out the next time you maintain your stand mower and let us know how your DIY maintenance goes. In case of any question, suggestions, or clarification, feel free to comment below and we will be more than ready to help.

6 Ways to Maintain Your Mower When Parts Are Scarce

With the growing need for commercial lawn care services around the globe, manufacturers of commercial mowers have a crucial need of having their authorized product dealers evenly distributed all over the world. This, however, entails a lot of advance planning. Mower manufacturers have to weigh on the matter especially since establishing such authorized dealerships involves a sizable investment and a lot of legalities.

Due to such circumstances, you’ll find that commercial mower owners in some countries have limited access to the recommended replacement parts for their mowers. For example, recently one of my readers in Africa said that they purchased two powerful commercial mowers for their demanding lawn care needs, one in 2014 and the other in 2017. They however encountered a huge backlash because of the limited access to replacement parts and prolonged shipping time from the product suppliers. Unfortunately, they had to ground their mowers and resort to the common less-effective products that they can afford.

By the time I wrote this article, I had tried to reach out to some of the renowned commercial mower brands and their partners to see if they have plans of addressing this need. As we wait for the reply however, I felt the need to give a helpful guide on how commercial mower owners in places with limited access to replacement parts can maintain their mowers even under such circumstances. Here are six ways that have proven to be effective.

  1. Insist on one operator
  2. Give thorough training
  3. Consistent periodic maintenance
  4. Be alert to problems and non-scheduled maintenance
  5. Have substitute spare parts on hand
  6. Find replacement solutions locally

Insist on One Operator

It’s logically wise to have one mower operator running your mower at a time rather than having several mower operators using it in shifts. This will help in familiarizing your operator with the mower. As time goes on, he or she’ll develop a consistent pattern of using the mower that you can easily track for performance and mechanical behaviors.

With one person assigned to your mower, the possibility of having surprise mechanical issues is reduced. This is because the operator gets to know the mower so well that he or she can easily detect unusual behaviors before they turn into severe mechanical faults.

Therefore, as soon as you purchase your mower assign one person to be solely responsible for its operation and maintenance. Instilling such responsibility can help in reducing potential negligence on the part of the mower operator. As a result, you’ll extend your mower’s longevity.

Give Thorough Training

Providing thorough training to your operator does not only ensure your mower’s safety, but it also helps in familiarizing your operator with basic mechanic skills that can be valuable in case of any downtime. Instructive sessions on how to do several routine tasks like valve clearance adjustment, wheel hub inspection, and routine oil changes can be a good resource especially in places where experienced dealer support isn’t accessible.

My recommendation is that you make sure that your mower operator gets the needed training and in case you intend to operate it yourself, ensure that you also get the same training. Let the dealer whom you purchased the mower from train your team a comprehensive study session on how to perform certain maintenance tasks. Insist that he or she concentrates on giving this training to one person who in the end will pass this knowledge to his team-mates in the form of practical maintenance sessions.

Thorough training also provides a lasting foundation for your operators. Even in circumstances where your operator decides to leave, there will be a pattern of doing things that’ll be passed on to the next operator you hire. With such a definite pattern your mower is most likely to last longer.

Consistent Periodic Maintenance

Like the way you regularly take care of yourself, commercial mowers also need to be taken good care of. This is done through daily and perioding maintenance sessions. Doing this doesn’t only help in keeping your mower in good shape, it also helps in extending the life of moving parts that would easily break because of prolonged use without servicing.

So, promptly follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance cycle. These people have tested out several routines for a long time and they have come up with effective procedures for mower maintenance. Why not take advantage of what has already proven to be effective rather than going through the whole testing? So consistently carry out periodic maintenance for your mower.

A typical daily maintenance session would involve doing the following things before taking your mower out for mowing;

  • Checking your mower’s engine oil
  • Checking your mower’s hydro oil
  • Cleaning your mower’s air filters
  • Checking under the deck for trapped grass clamps
  • Lubricating casters

In addition to doing such tasks on a daily basis, it’s also recommended to use a leaf blower or air compressor to blow off the grass clamps after a grass cutting session. It would also be good to use a damp cloth with clean water and detergent to clean your mower off the dirt it accumulated when mowing. That way, you’ll keep your mower looking new for a long time which ultimately saves you from costly remodeling and painting.

A periodic maintenance session that you would perform after the recommended time in your owner’s manual would include;

With a consistent periodic maintenance routine, you’ll most likely address certain issues that would potentially turn into major mechanical problems tomorrow and the mower’s output will be at par.

Be Alert to Problems/ Non-Scheduled Maintenance

Alert and on the watch

With the limited access to recommended replacement parts, it would be wise to be vigilant and attentive to your mower’s abrupt change in behavior. Even though your mower could be running properly at the time, There might be a major problem that’s causing the unusual behavior. Any notable change in the way your mower sounds could mean that there’s a potential mechanical problem.

Being alert to such problems would involve cultivating the habit of checking areas that aren’t readily visible. For example how often do you remove your mower’s wheels so as to check the condition of your wheel flanges and their woodruff keys? These are common areas that quickly wear out due to constant movement, checking them regularly might help you order for replacements in advance or talk to your equipment operator to see ways of improving on handling.

Just as they say prevention is better than cure, some preventive steps can help in minimizing the possibility of having your mower grounded instead of leaving matters to chance. One preventive measure you would consider including in your routine is regularly checking the drive belts. In most commercial mowers, the belts are under the mower’s engine which released a lot of heat. With the constant heat and movement, belts can develop cracks. Seeing this in advance can help you plan ahead for replacements.

Have Substitute Spare Parts on Hand

In places where there’s no authorized dealers for commercial mowers, it takes a lot of time to have replacement parts at your disposal. Shipping and custome regulations can delay purchases. To minimize these inconveniences, try to order several replacement parts in advance when the mower is still in good shape.

If you can afford, consider having major replacement parts like blades, belts, wheel hubs, push rods and an extra clutch on hand. These parts are usually in action so they tend to wear out faster than others. Having them handy can minimize the associated stress of sourcing them in a limited time frame.

Having substitute spare parts in place can help you reduce your mower’s downtime in case of any unexpected failure. You’ll be having all the repalcements you need on hand. Lawn care business owners might also consider having an extra commercial mower standby for any unexpected incidence.

Have Replacement Solutions Locally

It could be true that the best way to have your mower functioning well and delivering its maximum output is by replacing faulty parts with the manufacturer’s recommended parts but at times, you just can’t help it. For example, the oil filters in your local market might be from a different brand but they work. Why should you go for parts that you’ll go through a heck of sourcing when there are locally sourced items that perform the same function?

There certain parts on most commercial mowers that are a bit universal. These are items that share the same functions with other equipment for example batteries, filters, hydro system belts, blades, and throttle cables. Since there other types of equipment that use the same parts, you might easily find them in the local market and at a good price. All you need finding out whether they match with the manufacturer’s specifications.

Even if there no authorized commercial mower dealers in your area, you can still find a local alternative that can still keep your mower properly maintained and running. So check in your local market for what fits the manufacturer’s specifications – The results might surprise you.

As more companies enter the lawn care market, time will come when there won’t be issues with replacement parts for your commercial mowers but as you wait for that time to come, don’t let certain obstacles stop you from getting a commercial mower that will perfectly address your needs. Follow this advice and you’ll be set to keeping your mower running for a long time.

If you have any need, feel free to leave it in the comments section below or take advantage of the contact tab and I’ll help you out. I’ve been in the lawn cutting business for over 15 years and throughout this, I’ve learned a lot of things that can help fellow mower owners to get the most out of their commercial mowers